The Apartment

“One thing I dislike more than being taken too lightly is being taken too seriously,” Billy Wilder reportedly said. So let's say that The Apartment is a comedy of a ridiculous man, with cynical, noirish overtones. Jack Lemmon is an insurance-company drone whose only chance of picking his way out of the rat-maze is to give over his apartment for the sexual trysts of his superiors in the hope of being promoted. It's an unusual take on New York's housing problem, and also a sexual time capsule for 1960. Shirley MacLaine's Miss Kubelick, elevator operator, has her own brand of gay tragedy; she, too, takes it on the chin, and anywhere she can get it, from boss Fred MacMurray. The behemoth company headquarters whose layout presages Brazil, the office party laced with Christmas jeer, the satiric jabs at corporate-speak are Wilder's angle on the new boys in uniform: the gray flannel suits.

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